Every year on March 1, my mother breaks out four things: 1) the Irish flag, 2) Irish decorations, 3) Irish accessories, and 4) a host of jaunty, traditional Irish tunes. There are four weeks of nothing but leprechaun socks and fiddles and tenors and bass drums, because even after St. Patrick’s Day has passed, she just keeps going, enjoying her heritage until April Fools Day shows its impish, pranking face.
If you don’t think this is an important element in shaping a family, look at it this way: I spent exactly 1/12 of my childhood celebrating a single day. There was a period where I tried to ignore all the Irishness, just to be rebellious, but these days, on the day, I’m the person who passes out clover stickers at work and wears buttons that say things like, “Top o’ the mornin’!” and “Pretend I’m the Blarney Stone.”
It also means that, should we ever walk into an Irish pub with a live band, I’ll make you learn to sing along to this:
The Dubliners & The Pogues – Whiskey in the Jar
That’s just how it is. When you have an Irish mother, you can’t help yourself. When my boys are grown, I hope they’ll know these songs by heart, too.
When I was young, we’d go so far as to travel three hours to celebrate appropriately. In my mother’s hometown of Pittsburgh, there’s a massive Irish population that puts on an equally massive St. Patrick’s Day parade. We didn’t go every year, but we went often enough. And when it was over, we walked around town in our Irishness to find other people who were Irish, too, even if just for the day.
Ah. Fun, Irish-y times were had by all.
We’re not going to Pittsburgh this weekend. Not at all. After 36 years of learning to celebrate the day, I’m finally ready for the biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebration there is this side of the Atlantic. And as my half-Irish/half-Sicilian luck would have it, the festivities just happen to be in my favorite American city.
(Oh, my heart just wept happy Irish tears.)
Because here’s what you must know: When I first put together my 36×37 list, St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago was the very first thing I thought of. And now we’re headed there tonight at 3:00 PM ET. Which just goes to show: once a lass sets her sights on something, nothing can tell her “no.”
I’ve packed my greens, complete with shamrock-dotted knee-high socks, so I can do this up right, 36×37 style. When my fellas and I get there, we’ll see a river dyed green and men in kilts and lots o’ bag pipes and Irish wolfhounds and Celtic dancers and people who are far drunker than I could ever hope to be.
I’ll take pictures. I’ll post them here. And as an added bonus, my posts shall greet thee with a wee Irish tune every day next week. You’ll either love them, or you’ll say what H said tonight when I popped in some live cuts from the Pogues: “How could anyone clap for this stuff?”
Céad míle fáilte! (One hundred thousand welcomes.)
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